Contributions to our cross-university blog
In lieu of conventional reading responses, students write posts for our collaborative cross-university blog. In each post students write about some current event in the US or elsewhere, using materials from the course to inform their analysis. Students also comment on one another’s posts, engaging one another in a dialogue that spans multiple campuses.
Country case studies
In lieu of final papers, students write case studies on countries that have recently experienced episodes of democratic decay. We use these case studies to populate our Democratic Erosion Event Dataset (DEED), which captures the precursors and symptoms of democratic erosion in uniquely rich detail. DEED also includes acts of resistance to democratic erosion from within the media, bureaucracy and civil society. Students and faculty use DEED to produce scholarly research and policy briefs for our partners in the practitioner community, including the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and USAID’s Democracy, Human Rights and Governance (DRG) section.
At least once during the semester students attend a political event in the area around their university. Events vary widely: protests, a pro- or anti-Trump rallies, town hall meetings with local or state representatives, etc. Afterwards they write a blog post reflecting on their experience, drawing on the materials from class to inform their reflections.
Democratic Erosion simulation
The Democratic Erosion simulation immerses students in a fictional country undergoing rapid democratic decay in the weeks leading up to an election. Students assume the roles of decision-makers within political parties and the media, and must decide how to strategize and take action in response to critical political events. The simulation, developed by the ICONS Project specifically for our course, reinforces student learning on the factors that exacerbate or mitigate democratic erosion in comparative perspective.